Q&A: Chris Wood, CEO, WIOCC
Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC speaks to Capacity about demand challenges, point-to-point bandwidth and how it has created Africa's largest metropolitan area network (MAN).
What are the main challenges of operating in the African market and how are you looking to tackle those challenges?
As Africa's carriers' carrier, WIOCC now transports almost half of all the traffic on the EASSy submarine cable and is the leading supplier of wholesale bandwidth for Africa. We see our main challenge as keeping ahead of the demand. Our market is evolving considerably in terms of what carriers and ISPs want: from pure point-to-point bandwidth in the early days; to point-to-point bandwidth with partial redundancy; and now they are increasingly looking for seamless protection and support for the more complex network solutions they are delivering for their customers into multiple countries in the region.
We have to stay relevant to our customers by providing the advanced connectivity solutions that this dynamic market demands. To do this WIOCC continues to invest in building its highly scalable and cost-effective core infrastructure, technology and human capital, as well as enhancing and extending its network and service capabilities.
What have been the highlights and key developments for your company in the region in the past year?
WIOCC continues to develop its seamless, end-to-end managed services capabilities to meet the evolving demands of Africa's wholesale markets. The main highlight this year has been the creation of Africa’s largest metropolitan area network (MAN) in Johannesburg, S. Africa, which comprises three core PoPs and over 39 aggregation and customer-provided PoPs. Additional infrastructure investments that will further extend WIOCC’s national coverage are in the pipeline. The Johannesburg MAN offers carriers the opportunity to connect directly to hundreds of customer locations across the business districts of Johannesburg and Pretoria over WIOCC’s network and is expected to go live by the end of October.
Earlier in the year, WIOCC gave its customers enhanced access to the global internet, while also enhancing WIOCC’s network connectivity redundancy, by establishing new remote peering internet exchange points in Virginia, New York, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.
What are your strategic priorities as well as expansion plans for the region in 2017?
WIOCC’s mission is to make an enduring contribution to communications in Africa. Our focus moving forward is very much on continuing to invest in growing and extending our network and capabilities to help customers overcome complex connectivity challenges in Africa via seamless, end-to-end, managed connectivity solutions into, within and out of the continent.
What major trends do you see occurring in the African market this year and how do you plan to capitalise on those?
In the wholesale market, WIOCC expects to see continued demand for seamless connectivity to the internet in Europe (much of it protected via delivery on multiple cable systems), as well as growth in the provision of high-quality local IP Transit services.
In specific markets, the ability to cost-effectively terminate traffic directly to customer premises will become increasingly significant as a differentiator, as will the ability to meet customers' demands for increasingly tailored, complex solutions. These are both areas in which WIOCC is continuing to invest.
What does your organisation hope to achieve by attending Capacity Africa 2016?
Capacity Africa is without doubt the leading event for the African wholesale telecoms industry, attracting very strong attendance from African and international carriers. We see Capacity Africa as a great environment for doing business, showcasing our capabilities and networking with existing and potential partners.